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Incense vs incense

  • Incense and incense are two words that are spelled identically but are pronounced differently and have different meanings, which makes them heteronyms. These word pairs are often misused words. Heteronyms exist because of our ever-changing English language, and these words with the same spelling and different pronunciation and meaning are a challenge for those who wish to learn to speak English. It can be difficult to learn how to spell different words that look the same but are not pronounced the same, and how to use them in sentences, because they are easily confused. The way the pronunciations and definitions differ can be confusing even to native English speakers when attempting to learn vocabulary correctly. Phonological spelling and spelling rules do not always work, and most people avoid misspelling and misuse by studying vocabulary words from spelling lists, enhancing their literacy skills through spelling practice, and learning words in English by studying a dictionary of the English language. English words are also spelled according to their etymologies rather than their sound. For instance, the word tear meaning a liquid drop that falls from an eye is derived from the Old English word tear, meaning a drop or nectar; tear meaning to pull apart comes from the Old English word tearan, which means to lacerate. Heteronyms are confusing words and are commonly misspelled words because of the confusion that arises from words that are pronounced differently but are spelled the same and come from a different etymology. They are often used in puns and riddles. When reading, it is sometimes difficult to know which word is being used in a sentence and how to pronounce the word phonetically. A spell checker will rarely find this type of mistake in English vocabulary, so do not rely on spell check for these commonly confused words but instead, learn to spell. Even a participant in a spelling bee like the National Spelling Bee will ask for an example of a heteronym in a sentence, so that she understands which word she is to spell by using context clues. Do not confuse heteronyms with homophones, which are two or more words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings like sow and sew; do not confuse them with homonyms, which are words that have the same spelling and pronunciation but different meanings like spring as in spring forth and spring as in the season of the year. Heteronyms are a type of homograph, which is a word that is spelled the same as another word but has a different meaning. We will examine the definitions of the words incense and incense, where these words came from, and a few examples of their use in sentences.


     

    Incense (IN sense) is a material that comes in a cone, brick, stick, or other form that when lit produces a sweet fragrance. The word incense may refer to the material that is burned or the aroma produced by burning. Incense is commonly used in religious ceremonies, to enhance meditation, for aromatherapy, or simply to produce a pleasant atmosphere. Sometimes, incense may be used as an insect repellent. The word incense is derived from the Latin word, incensum, which means that which is burned. Occasionally, the word incense is used as a verb to mean to bathe in the smoke of incense; related words are incenses, incensed, incensing.

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    Incense (in SENSE) is a verb that means to enrage, to anger, to incite. Incense is derived from the Latin word, incensare, meaning to enrage or light on fire. Related words are incenses, incensed, incensing.

    Examples

    As soon as she gets home, the singer changes into her comfiest clothes, grabs a mason jar filled with water and lights candles and incense in her bathroom to set the mood. (People Magazine)

    INCENSE sticks have become a burning issue at a Morningside block of flats, with a property management company sending a warning about the smoke causing a “nuisance”. (The Independent)

    While the Legislature has had an adversarial attitude toward the initiative process since it was adopted in 1914, it has become incensed with petition sponsors adding language to the constitution which puts subjects outside the reach of the Legislature. (Minot Daily News)

    Alejandro Figueroa had become incensed after one of the sons called 911 to say his father was drunk and handling guns, one of which had accidentally gone off, police said Saturday. (The Las Vegas Sun)


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